A successful digital nomad should have the right job that pays them no matter where their travels take them. Tech professionals have quickly risen to the forefront of this type of work, especially those in coding and computer science.
These fields span hundreds of jobs, from software developers to AI researchers, but there are stark differences between coding and computer science programs for digital nomads. Here are the ten key differences between the two and how to leverage each skill set for the ultimate digital nomad job.
1. Skill set flexibility (Or lack thereof)
The skill set that coding encompasses is distinct from that in computer science. While there is some overlap, these two fields use your knowledge base and attributes differently.
Coding skills can be used to develop desktop, mobile, and website apps. They can also create video games, build websites, build data-analysis software, control smart devices, develop AI, secure networks, and much more. Code-savvy digital nomads can find plenty of work in web development, mobile app development, and freelance coding, among other positions.
While coding can get your foot in the door at a variety of positions, computer science tends to be more multidisciplinary. You’ll need to be familiar with algorithms, AI, data science, and operating systems – the ins and outs, not just a part of each. That’s why a computer science background can land you a job in healthcare, finance, gaming, cybersecurity, or robotics.
Computer science provides a more comprehensive understanding of technology for digital nomads who want to know how different components work together and explore what they can do with them. This mindset is more creative and futuristic, with the chance to upskill and move up to more lucrative positions as you gain experience.
Take the distinction between a coding boot camp vs. a computer science degree program, for example.
Coding boot camps will home in on coding websites, software, and apps. The boot camp will be shorter, as its name entails, and teach coding skills for specific roles.
A computer science degree, on the other hand, dives into the hows and whys of working computers, from programming languages to the tech principles of system interaction over time.
2. What you need to learn
A large gap exists when you compare the depth of understanding for coders versus computer science roles.
Coding degrees or programs emphasize practical skills for immediate application. If you’re a digital nomad who prefers to focus on hands-on development tasks, coding may be right up your alley.
If instead, you prefer an in-depth dive into the principles of programming, algorithms, theoretical concepts, and data structures, a computer science degree program will be a better fit. Such a program will fuel your ability to code with confidence, skill, and more profound knowledge of your field.
With technology changing daily at a rapid pace, many tech roles will develop a need for workers with a computer science background to create effective and adaptable solutions for clients over the years.
3. Career opportunities
For digital nomads who are looking to learn how to code and get into the field fairly quickly, you may find ample remote work opportunities with freelance coding projects, web development, or app development.
A coding background will allow you to develop software for companies or work with product teams to help build digital products like apps or online courses. Coders can also help develop databases, create user-friendly websites, build e-commerce apps, or design web platforms. You have the autonomy of working on your own or, sometimes, on a team.
For those who want more options when it comes to your remote tech work, a computer science degree will weigh in your favor. If you’re called to employers in software engineering, data analytics, AI, and machine learning, you’ll need skills beyond conventional coding.
Take software engineers for example, they create algorithms for complex issues, including the development, testing, deployment, and maintenance of entire software systems.
Or, let’s examine the data analyst. To dig up patterns buried within vast datasets, you’ll need a strong computer science background and the skill set that comes with it.
Computer scientists can do more than just freelance work; they can work remotely as researchers for universities, governments, and large corporations. They can solve problems and puzzles daily, create innovative programs and solutions, and explore new approaches to modern challenges.
4. Problem-solving abilities
We’ve mentioned the creativity and adaptability that comes with a computer science role. This is because computer science instruction places such a strong emphasis on problem-solving skills, logical reasoning, and algorithmic thinking, which is when you break down a larger problem into an optimized, structured approach.
Workers with a computer science background don’t just solve problems – they identify a range of possible solutions while understanding and analyzing the impact of each decision and solution in the short and long term. This creates programs and applications that are efficient, precisely thought out, and ready to face any changes or obstacles that come their way.
Coders will be able to find the fastest solution by focusing on existing technologies and techniques. While this approach may solve an issue at hand, computer science-based techies are the ones who will seek optimization while analyzing the future implications of decisions.
5. Adaptability over time
If you can’t adapt or deal with change, you won’t last a minute in the tech world. Humanity is advancing faster than ever and the tech industry is at the forefront of change and innovation.
A computer science degree is built to equip all types of digital nomads with the ability to learn new technologies and adapt to evolving trends. This degree allows students to delve into foundational theories and concepts, giving computer science graduates a natural advantage when it comes to staying current with industry trends and innovation. You’ll also gain a greater understanding of both coding language and logic, easily transitioning between different tech languages and picking up new ones as they appear.
In contrast, coding sticks to a pragmatic one-way street of learning. You’ll gain the knowledge for creating sites, apps, and digital products, but be limited to a specific language or type of technology in comparison to computer science students. Unfortunately, this knowledge constraint will limit coders’ ability to adapt when market shifts occur.
Continuous learning and skill upgrades are an integral part of any technology-centered position, from coding to computer science. Students in both fields can and should always stay current on the latest tech trends through professional certifications, attending workshops and conferences, reading professional journals, and/or taking online courses.
6. Networking and collaboration
You can find networking opportunities in any and all fields of work, especially tech. Digital nomads have the advantage of networking around the world, and coding nomads can do so through coding boot camps, hackathons, and industry events. Similarly, computer science education also encourages collaboration, presenting various projects that require teamwork and effective communication.
To grow in the tech field, digital nomads must make a point to attend events and programs that help build professional networks. Networking in these fields facilitates valuable connections, opportunities for collaboration, knowledge sharing, and access to resources that can enhance professional growth. You never know what value a new professional connection could bring to both your career and personal life!
7. Technical depth
A stark distinction between coding and computer science lies in the depth of knowledge required for each.
Coding degrees focus on specific programming languages, tools, and frameworks. This focus makes coders masters of a small, specific skill set. A skilled coder can quickly develop apps or software according to modern needs.
Conversely, computer science degrees allow for a broader education, covering more topics like computer architecture, operating systems, databases, and theoretical foundations of computing. While the topics are vast, these programs are often longer than coding programs, allowing for in-depth education nonetheless. Digital nomads with such degrees often approach challenges with a more diverse skill set applicable to multiple platforms and domains.
8. Theoretical knowledge
As mentioned earlier, coding degrees are more hands-on, while computer science also dives into foundational theory. The latter may teach you formal languages, computational theory, and algorithm analysis, which encourages critical thinking and problem-solving skills – two skills that are essential for devising innovative solutions and developing new technologies.
9. Software development life cycle
The software development life cycle (SDLC) is the structured process of developing software, from initial concept to deployment and maintenance. Coding and computer science are crucial parts of the SDLC but are used in very different ways.
Coding degrees will help write code, debug, and test while creating functional software. Computer science degrees, though, have a more holistic view of the SDLC. They encompass the aspects of coding but also include analysis, design principles, software testing methodologies, and project management. Because of this, digital nomads with computer science degrees will likely find themselves more capable of handling large-scale projects while working more efficiently in a team to get the job done.
10. Research and Innovation
If you hope to work with and impact cutting-edge technologies and advancements in the field, a computer science program is better equipped to help you reach your goal. This also gives you the option to work in academia or research-based organization to create and implement new ideas in tech.
On the other hand, coding will allow you to meet immediate industry needs for application-based projects. You will still gain practical, hands-on experience, but may find yourself with fewer opportunities as a digital nomad to participate in innovation-centric pursuits.
Choosing between coding and computer science as a digital nomad is a big decision, but it’s one that can be made adequately with enough research and consideration.
Do you agree with these 10 differences?